WHAT do a bank robber, broken doll, banana, shadow and Rosie the Riveter have in common?
They all want to go trick-or-treating this year.
Alexina Key (a future Rosie), plans on taking her four children door-to-door on Halloween. That is, if COVID-19 case numbers in Manitoba don’t spike and health officials don’t advise against it.
"We really enjoy the costumes and getting out into the community and being in our neighbourhood, but we are living in difficult times right now, so we need to respect that," Key said.
Last year, her family hunkered down in their St. Norbert home on Oct. 31, stuffing themselves with pizza and candy while dressed in homemade costumes, watching Halloween movies.
"It was fun, but it was lacking a little bit," Key said.
At the time, Manitoba’s daily case counts sometimes exceeded 400, and the number of active cases vaulted past 3,000.
COVID-19 is still a concern in the province — Manitoba added another 51 cases Wednesday — but for Halloween 2021, so far, health officials are giving a cautious thumbs-up to celebrating.
The province has a list of guidelines for trick-or-treaters, and door-answerers, on its website.
It advises people over the age of two to wear a non-medical mask. Travelling groups should comprise of household members, to limit non-household contacts. Physical distancing is warranted, as is using hand sanitizer often and staying home if sick.
Instead of doorbell-ringing, the province is encouraging knocking and yelling a popular Halloween catchphrase.
People handing out goodies should wear a mask, provide pre-packaged food using tongs or another means to keep distance, and avoid putting out communal candy bowls.
Jonathan Glass, co-owner of Party Stuff supply store, said he’s noticed a large uptick in Halloween shoppers this month.
"Things are much better than last year," he said, noting up to 30 per cent more traffic compared to October 2020.
Patrons are also stopping by for birthday, wedding and anniversary decor — more than normal, Glass said.
"I think that any chance to celebrate, whether that’s a family milestone like a birthday... or a general celebration like Halloween... everyone’s taking advantage of that," he said. "It’s an opportunity that we didn’t know was an opportunity — the ability to celebrate with each other."
However, Halloween spending isn’t what it was pre-pandemic, Glass added.
Dana Binder is among the Manitobans who aren’t yet comfortable sending their children trick-or-treating. She hasn’t committed to keeping them home, but she’s leaning that way.
"There’s still so many unknowns, especially with the delta variant," Binder said.
Her 13-year-old son is vaccinated, but her 10-year-old daughter isn’t yet eligible. Binder said it would be unfair to just send one out, and if either child gets sick, the whole family must stay home.
She’s decorated her home to boost her children’s spirits. Last year, they ordered in, ate sweets and watched movies. The household didn’t hand out candy and, Binder doesn’t anticipate doing so on Oct. 31.
"I’d rather not have people that I don’t know (come to the door)," she said. "People are still asymptomatic."
Indoor and mall-based trick-or-treating are permitted as long as folks maintain physical distancing and there are few to no shared contact items, according to the province’s website.
Gabby is a big fan of people, writing and learning. She graduated from Red River College’s Creative Communications program in the spring of 2020.